We explain who “Che” Guevara was, what his life was like and his travels through South America. Also, what are his characteristics and political positions.

Che Guevara
Che was one of the most important revolutionary leaders in Cuba.

Who was “Che” Guevara?

Ernesto Guevara, better known as “Che” Guevara, was an Argentine-Cuban politician and revolutionary. He also worked as a journalist, writer and soldier.

He had an important participation in the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959) led by Fidel Castro. He was one of the most important revolutionary leaders of Cuba at the timetogether with Fidel and Raúl Castro, Huber Matos and Camilo Cienfuegos.

He is a controversial figure. admired by some and rejected by others. This is due to his participation as a promoter of the communist guerrillas in different Third World countries. This militancy made him an icon of world relevance of the Revolutionary Left and of the Anti-imperialist struggle.

The portrait of Che Guevara taken by the photographer Alberto Korda (which illustrates this article) is one of the most famous and most reproduced portraits in the world. In part it is used taking into account its original ideological context, but also to make reinterpretations, appropriations and elaboration of merchandising: clothing, hats, posters, etc.

See also: National Security Doctrine

Birth of Che Guevara

Ernest Guevara was born in the city of Rosario, Argentinaon June 14, 1928.

Was the eldest child of five that Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna had, who belonged to the Argentine aristocracy.

According to some versions, Che would be a descendant of José de la Serna e Hinojosathe last Spanish Viceroy of Lima.

Che had a comfortable childhood though plagued by frequent asthmatic episodes.

He had access to the books and cultivated both in adventure novels and poetry. Later he studied Medicine at the University of Buenos Aires. It is not known that he exercised any militancy in student movements or in Peronism, a movement for which he nevertheless felt sympathy.

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Travels in South America

Che Guevara - Alberto Granado
In 1952 Che and his friend Alberto Granado made a seven-month trip.

Che was a keen traveler, committed to the idea of ​​traveling through Latin America and getting to know it more closely, far from the traditional tourist circuits. Thus, he made a trip through the Argentine northwest in 1950, alone, on a Cucciolo brand motorcycle, which would be a prelude to his great continental trips.

  • First Latin American trip. In 1952 Che and his friend Alberto Granado made a seven-month trip on a motorcycle. They left Córdoba (Argentina) towards the South, to enter Chile through Patagonia and then travel all the way to the North. After they entered Peru, they visited Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Then Lima, Iquitos and they flew by seaplane to Bogotá, in the midst of Colombian violence. From there they took a bus to Caracas, and Ernesto returned to Buenos Aires on a flight with a stopover in Miami.
  • Second Latin American trip. Che’s second trip took place between 1953 and 1954, this time with his childhood friend Carlos Ferrer. The task was to return to Caracas, where Alberto Granado was still waiting for him. They left Buenos Aires by train to Bolivia, staying in La Paz, in the midst of the revolutionary process of 1952. Then they redid the route to Peru (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lima) and from there to Guayaquil, Ecuador, by bus. There they changed course: Ernesto decided to go to Guatemala to witness Colonel Jacobo Arbenz’s Revolution, so he separated from his friend and headed to Panama, then Costa Rica, Nicaragua (hitting), Honduras and El Salvador. When he finally arrived in Guatemala, he stayed there for just over nine months.

Relationship with Fidel and Raúl Castro

che guevara raul fidel castro
Che met the Castro brothers in Mexico, where he had lived since 1954.

Che met the Castro brothers in Mexicoafter living there for two years, since 1954. He soon enlisted in the July 26 Movement that Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl (who was a fervent communist militant) promoted to retake the island of Cuba from the dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista .

His friendship with the Castros lasted many years.. He established himself in the guerrilla war and in the revolutionary militancy, leading Che even to hold public positions in the Cuban revolutionary government, since he was considered a man of maximum confidence.

Participation in the Cuban Revolution

Che Guevara
During the Cuban Revolution Che was commander of the “Fourth” Column.

Che was among the ranks of the Cuban revolutionary guerrilla, after the landing of the Granma in the Gulf of Guacanayabo. He remained together with the “barbudos” during the three years that they resisted in the Sierra Maestra, in the south of the island.

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During this time worked as field doctor and as commander of the “Fourth” Column (actually it was the second), which he baptized as the “descamisados”, paying homage to the term that Eva Perón had used. There he also created Radio Rebelde in 1958, a clandestine station designed to promote resistance to the dictatorship.

After the triumph of the Revolution, Guevara participated in the execution of summary trials those officials of the dictatorship considered war criminals. Many of these trials resulted in executions.

hundreds of people were sentenced in these “revolutionary trials”. They were publicly endorsed by Che, who presided over the revolutionary court of justice, and their hearings were public.

Official positions in Cuba

che guevara ussr
Among other positions, Che was entrusted with diplomatic missions to China and the USSR.

guevara participated in the design of Agrarian Reform laws, in the creation of Prensa Latina (a revolutionary and international media) and as ambassador of the Revolution, with diplomatic trips to other Third World countries. In all these unofficial positions he proved to be in favor of the most radical options.

Subsequently, in the midst of a panorama of polarization and international threat, he was in charge of organizing the Department of Industrialization of INRA, which later became the Ministry of Industry. In 1959 he was appointed President of the Banco Nacional de Cubatime when the bills appeared signed with his nickname: “Che”.

From these institutions advocated the expropriation and nationalization of private industries and planning a centralized economy. Later he was the diplomatic manager of missions to China and the USSR.

Internationalization of the Revolution

Che Guevara - Africa
Leaving Cuba, Che went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Guevara, like many communists, considered the Revolution to be an international affair. Armed insurgency was promoted in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina, mostly unsuccessful.

Even despite the opposition of the local communist parties, Guevara believed that the Internationalization of the Revolution was urgent and necessary. This eventually led him to leave Cuba at the end of 1964, after renouncing his public office and Cuban nationality.

He left for Africa, and his first destination was the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The management in this African country was a resounding failure, and after a brief and secret return to Cuba, Che decided to launch a guerrilla insurrection in Bolivia, where he arrived in 1966.

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How did Che Guevara die?

After his arrival in Bolivia, Che Guevara he was wounded in combat and captured by the forces of the Bolivian military dictatorship of René Barrientos, who had the support of the CIA.

Sand publicly announced his death in combat, although today it is known that at midday on that same October 9, 1967, the order to execute him was issued. There are doubts and versions regarding the responsibility of the United States in making this decision.

Awards and recognitions

Che Guevara
Che was declared an illustrious citizen of the city of Rosario.
  • Order of the Republic of Egypt, in 1959.
  • Order of the White Lion 1st Class, in Czechoslovakia in 1960.
  • Grand Cross of the National Order of the Southern Cross, in Brazil in 1961.
  • Order of the Great Revolution of the First of September, in Libya in 1990 (posthumous).
  • He was declared an illustrious citizen of the city of Rosario posthumously in 2002.
  • Augusto César Sandino Order in Battle of San Jacinto degree, in Nicaragua in 2008 (posthumous).

Che Guevara ideology

Che’s thought often summarized under the label of “Guevarismo”. It is an amalgamation of anti-imperialism, Marxism and communism, in which the armed struggle played a fundamental role.

in his ideology the peasantry, the agrarian reform and the rural struggle were vital. That is why it was distinguished from European Marxisms, more focused on the working class, and was closer to Maoism. He also valued the individual ethic of the revolutionary, who should motivate the individual to the common good and solidarity.

Phrases of Che Guevara

Che Guevara-phrases
“Capitalism is the most respected genocide in the world.”
  • “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”
  • “The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”
  • “If I advance, follow me; if I stop, push me; if I back off, kill me.”
  • “If you are capable of trembling with indignation every time an injustice is committed in the world, we are partners.”
  • “Capitalism is the most respected genocide in the world.”


  • “Che Guevara” on Wikipedia.
  • “Che Guevara [Ernesto Guevara]in Biographies and Lives.
  • “Ché Guevara: by profession, revolutionary leader” in Muy Historia.
  • “Who was Che Guevara?” in Telesur.
  • “Che Guevara (Argentine-Cuban revolutionary)”in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  • “Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara” on The History Channel.
  • “El Che” by José Miguel Jiménez in Margin Cero Magazine.

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